World Bank approves US $148M loan to West Bengal

The loan will finance the Minor Irrigation Project to Support Water Availability, Increase Food Security for 960,000 People in West Bengal.

The executive directors of the World Bank approved a US$148 million loan to help the Indian state of West Bengal utilize surface and groundwater through improved irrigation techniques that will assist those living in rural regions. The loan is for a 11.5-year term with a four-year grace period.

A statement from the World Bank noted that West Bengal is one of the largest food-producing states in India, that produces nearly 15 per cent of the nation’s rice and the second largest fish-producing state. “This project builds on the success of Phase I to provide climate-smart agriculture technologies and expand market linkages to over 240,000 small and marginal farmer households or 960,000 people,” said Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank’s country director for India.

The West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project – Phase II will assist the state’s Department of Water Resources Investigation and Development and water-user associations (WUAs) to build new structures including check dams, small-scale storage structures, creek rehabilitation, tube wells, and pump-dug wells.

“The Project will create a permanent capacity building to West Bengal for long-term support for minor irrigation and WUA developments in the state,” highlighted Anju Gaur and Joop Stoutjesdijk, the Task Team Leaders for the project.

According to a release, the new irrigation techniques will enable crop diversification, increasing the output of high-value crops including the annual production of at least 10,000 tonnes of fish and 17,000 tonnes of oilseed. Additionally, it will aid WUAs in managing more than 4,000 new and old small-scale irrigation projects covering over 80,000 hectares.

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